photo: NOAA Photo Library/CC BY
New data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center shows that extent of Arctic sea ice in August melted off to the second lowest amount for the month on record. Throughout the month sea ice was near levels witnessed in 2007, when the yearly record low was set. It's expected that sometime by mid-September the annual minimum will be set.
Average ice extent for August 2011 was 5.52 million square kilometers (2.13 million square miles). This is 160,000 square kilometers (61,800 square miles) above the previous record low for the month, set in August 2007, and 2.15 million square kilometers (830,000 square miles), or 28% below the average for 1979 to 2000. Sea ice coverage remained below normal everywhere except the East Greenland Sea. In addition, several large areas of open water (polynyas) have opened within the ice pack.
On August 31, 2011 Arctic sea ice extent was 4.63 million square kilometers (1.79 million square miles). This is 100,000 square kilometers (38,600 square miles) higher than the previous record low for the same day of the year, set in 2007. As of September 5, ice extent had fallen below the minimum ice extents in September 2010 and 2008 (previously the third- and second-lowest minima in the satellite record). If ice stopped declining in extent today it would be the second-lowest minimum extent in the satellite record.
More on Arctic Sea Ice
Arctic Sea Ice Sets New Record Low For July
Arctic Sea Ice Melt On Track To Set New Record Low in 2011